Nocebo Review

Eva Green and Mark Strong star in this psychological thriller about a woman succumbing to a mysterious illness. Out on Shudder today!

Last Updated on March 2, 2023

PLOT: A fashion designer is suffering from a mysterious illness that puzzles her doctors and frustrates her husband, until help arrives in the form of a Filipino carer, who uses traditional folk healing to reveal a horrifying truth.

REVIEW: I always enjoy it when a film’s title has more beneath the surface and Nocebo certainly does. The Nocebo Effect, similar to the placebo effect, is about the patient manifesting symptoms that either don’t exist or are exaggerations of the negative side effects. Knowing that, and seeing the illness that takes over Christine (Eva Green), sets up both an air of mystery but also speculation regarding the root of the problem. Because we’re shown early that a parasite has crawled its way into Christine, yet is this just her imagination or is something else really eating at her?

I’m not even sure all of these questions are answered in Nocebo. There’s a lot that could be up for interpretation. Is the parasite real? Was it simply all part of Christine’s imagination? Or does the mysterious new carer know more than she’s letting on? While I always appreciate it when a film doesn’t try and overexplain, a little bit of guidance would have been useful. Even the answers it does give aren’t entirely clear. The way I interpreted Christine’s illness and how it affected her family, is completely changed by the final fifteen minutes. And I’m not sure that’s entirely for the better. Clearly, they wanted this film to have a message, but that message gets so clouded by the end. There are a few gross-out moments but otherwise, this is one that’s just about the performances.

Eva Green in Nocebo (2023).

Eva Green is absolutely fantastic here as Christine. It’s a character you feel sorry for at first but grow to see an entirely different side of. I’ve always been fascinated with how much Green is able to emote with just her eyes, and here is a treat. There are wonderful closeups where her facial expressions are the story being told. Whenever a camera can just be plopped down in front of an actor and they’ll make it intriguing, you’ve got quite the advantage. Put Green in an empty room and it would be interesting. Mark Strong also provides a great performance as Green’s husband, Felix. If anything, I’d say he’s a little underutilized. I also enjoyed Chai Fonacier’s Diana. Unfortunately, though, I’d say the story doesn’t quite live up to those performances.

Christine suffering from some mysterious illness certainly adds plenty of questions, but they ultimately don’t add up to much. I was expecting some kind of very internal issue when it came to Christine’s illness. Something where, like the definition of Nocebo itself, is a manifestation of symptoms. But they go out of their way to add an element that somewhat ruins the emotional journey that Christine is on. In many ways, the final act is going to be the deciding factor for most viewers. Either you’re going to appreciate what the filmmakers tried to do or be very frustrated by it.

I really appreciated what Nocebo was trying to go for but I’m not entirely sure it really sticks the landing. I won’t get into the big twist but, after a whole film of anticipation regarding the mystery, it’s hard not to be let down. The performances here are all top notch but the story fails to come together in a satisfying way. When the big reveal finally happens, it more feels like “That it?” than anything else. Which is never something you want for your big ending.

Nocebo is STREAMING ON SHUDDER FEBRUARY 24TH, 2023.

Nocebo trailer: Eva Green, Mark Strong, and Chai Fonacier star in the psychological thriller Nocebo, directed by Lorcan Finnegan

Nocebo

BELOW AVERAGE

5

About the Author

234 Articles Published

Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.